1818 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

William Hazlitt, in Lectures on the English Poets (1818; 1909) 167-68.



As to those who are really capable of admiring Chatterton's genius, or of feeling an interest in his fate, I would only say, that I never heard any one speak of any one of his works as if it were an old well-known favourite, and had become a faith and a religion in his mind. It is his name, his youth, and what he might have lived to have done, that excite our wonder and admiration. He has the same sort of posthumous fame that an actor of the last age has — an abstracted reputation which is independent of anything we know of his works.